Thank you!

Thank you to the attendees of the Volunteer Summit on March 25, part of the U of S Alumni Association Centennial. The Volunteer Summit brought together people involved in volunteerism throughout the province, including volunteers, volunteer managers, community leaders, employers, students, USASK alumni, and board members. Guests of the Volunteer Summit took part in transformative discussions with national volunteerism experts, professional development workshops and a gala to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism province-wide. Thank you for your continued commitment to serving important causes and organizations throughout Saskatchewan!

View photos from the Volunteer Summit:

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BUZ Volunteer Award

The inaugural BUZ Volunteer Award was presented at the Volunteer Summit. The award is based on a spirit of volunteerism and community service demonstrated through active, unpaid involvement in and contributions to his or her community.

Judy Buzowetsky, (BEd'67, BSHEC'67) was a past Alumni Association and board of governors director, and passionate community volunteer. Judy was involved with a variety of clubs and organizations at the local, provincial, national and international level which included: Canadian Federation of University Women, Red Cross, UNICEF, Status of Women, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, Weyburn and District Multicultural Council, Saskculture, Canadian College of Teachers, and the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, just to name a few.

Judy was the recipient of several awards including the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal, Saskatchewan Centennial Medal, Queen's Jubilee Medal, Distinguished Service Medal Canadian from the Red Cross, among many others.

Judy passed away in February 2016, but her values and giving spirit inspired everyone she touched through her volunteer endeavours.

Why celebrate volunteerism?

1.) Recognizing your efforts

With their generous gift of time and talent, volunteers are the unsung heroes of various events and ceremonies throughout Saskatchewan. The Volunteer Summit recognizes and celebrates the outstanding efforts of volunteers province-wide.

2.) Discovering the value

When we value the powerful impact volunteerism has on our society, organizations and individuals, we will appreciate it's importance. The impact of volunteering is truly invaluable.

3.) Continuing the tradition

We want to pass on the torch to our future volunteers and help them understand the importance and tradition of volunteering in our communities.

Alumni Volunteer Profiles

Every volunteer has a special story. Learn about our many alumni who have contributed their time, talent and resources to important causes and organizations.

Nicole Sarauer (JD'09) is the MLA for Regina Douglas Park. She has served as a volunteer with the Regina Sexual Assault Centre; a board member for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers; a board member of Regina’s chapter of Amnesty International; and a volunteer and board member with the YWCA Big Sisters program.

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

First, to give back and get more involved in my community.  I strongly believe that a life of service to others is a life worth living.  A life spent serving yourself can get dull quite quickly.  Second, to meet new people.  I have had the opportunity, through volunteering, of getting to know some of the most inspiring and incredible people.  They have been both mentors and friends to me.

What was your first volunteer experience?

My volunteering really took shape at the beginning of university; it started with the 24-hour sexual assault hotline through what is now called the Regina Sexual Assault Centre.  That was an eye-opening and humbling experience for me.  I learned about the structural barriers that many face in our society, as well as problems with accessing the justice system.

What keeps you motivated to continue volunteering?

I keep motivated to volunteer through the feeling of helping others and being a positive contact in someone’s life, even if I can’t solve all of their problems. I know it’s trite to say that I feel some days that I get more out of volunteering than I give, but the statement rings true.

What types of relationships and learning experiences have you taken away from volunteering?

I’ve met incredibly passionate people, all of whom I look up to and many of whom I call friends.

I’ve learned about the barriers and injustice that exist in our own community, many of which people often overlook or are invisible to those who are more fortunate.  I’ve learned that you can never tell what the person next to you is dealing with in their lives.  I’ve learned that the most rewarding experiences in life come from helping to make positive changes, however small, in the lives of others.

What is your proudest moment/accomplishment from your volunteering experience?

Whether it was on the 24-hour sexual assault line or, more recently, working at the Free Legal Clinic through Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan, I am honoured that people give me the opportunity to be let into their lives.  I think that is very difficult to do when you have felt rejected or ignored by society.

What is your vision for the future of volunteering? How do you aim to inspire others to get involved?

My hope is that others learn about the issues of inequality in their own neighbourhoods and realize that anyone can make an impact.

Joan Wilson (BEd’97) has been a resident of Saltcoats, SK for 37 years. A former teacher, she has volunteered with several organizations such as the Godfrey Dean Gallery in Yorkton, the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association, the Town of Saltcoats and the Saltcoats Curling Club. Joan was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and a Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal in 2013.

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

As a young girl, my mother helped in our small community of Madison, SK. I realized that if something needed to be done, the best way was to get involved and help make it happen.  When my husband and I settled in Saltcoats, I took on roles in various organizations and soon I was involved in numerous things from town council, to home care to the art gallery, and more.

What keeps you motivated to continue to volunteer?    

There are ongoing activities that I am involved with that continue to need support.  In a small town, whoever does a job gets to keep it until they really can’t do it anymore!  I am motivated because I still care about the things I am involved with.  These include our curling club and our great little town.

What types of relationships and learning experience have you taken away from volunteering?   

There are bonds formed with the people in the organizations you work with, you get to know different people through volunteering, and I am inspired by other volunteers in our community.  I want to support other volunteers and our town.  The volunteer experience has given me leadership and organizational skills, supported by my other life as a woman and a former teacher! 

What is your proudest moment/accomplishment from your volunteering experience?

 I am proud that many of our students have become part of the Yorkton Regional High School curling teams because they have been part of our junior curling program, and I like to think I helped bring that about, including (professional curler) Steve Laycock (BComm’07), but he has his own special talent!   I am proud that we have conserved a small bit of native prairie in our regional park. This is especially important to me as any little vestige of prairie needs to be protected as it can so easily and thoughtlessly be destroyed.   

How do you aim to inspire others to get involved? 

Create a buzz around a new project and hopefully generate interest so volunteers will come out to help, keep things fun, give encouragement and show appreciation for help received, and give acknowledgement to volunteers.  Personal contact, asking someone to help by calling them, or messaging them is helpful.  Give a clear picture of what is expected or needed so volunteers have a better idea of what they are getting themselves into.  Brainstorm for ideas and to create an” investment” in the next project.  Through involvement, hopefully others will be inspired to become involved.

Michael Negraeff (MD’92) is a pain medicine specialist living in Vancouver, BC. He is the founder of the Pain BC society, a non-for-profit organization that serves people living with pain and the healthcare professionals that treat them. He recently stepped down as Pain BC’s chair of the board of directors, a role he held for six years.

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

At the time, I wasn’t thinking “what can I volunteer for?”  I was thinking, “we need much better pain management services in BC.” After I finished my training (I was in an accident during my training and have a spinal cord injury), I decided that working in the operating room was going to be a bit too challenging from a wheelchair and did a fellowship in pain medicine in Sydney, Australia.  When I came back to Vancouver I started working in Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) taking care of complex pain problems in the hospital and it eventually led to outpatient work.  But we had no capacity in the pain clinics. 

So, I didn’t seek out volunteering; volunteering found me as the best vehicle to achieve our purposes. It was important because as a society, and as volunteers, we were free to say what we wanted and felt was right to send the message.

What keeps you motivated to continue volunteering?

What I really like about it is that you are free to get as engaged as you want. You are free to work in the direction you want. You are not beholden to anyone other than the mission of the organization, which you are really happy to push forward.

The other thing I really like is all the other people you meet. Volunteering changed me, because I began to see through other peoples’ lenses.

I was also very inspired by the others that were volunteering. They had severe pain, and had nothing else much to give besides their time and energy.  Why?  Our message and mission resonated with them.  Volunteering is contagious. When you look at the others that are volunteering, and for nothing to gain but to feel a part of something, it is very inspiring and urges you to keep on going.

What’s your proudest moment/accomplishment from your volunteering experience?

The single proudest I have felt of the organization was when we successfully got the first grant from the Ministry of Health in 2013.  Things were very dire for us financially.  Morale was low, but nobody quit. We tightened the belt and pressed on with various funding source options.  Right when things were darkest, we successfully landed the grant. It changed everything. All kinds of initiatives got off the ground after that and momentum has continued to build. I was really proud of the team that kept coming up with ideas.

Sharla Daviduik (BSc’95) is the manager of the administrative support group in the College of Arts & Science at the U of S. Sharla volunteers with the Saskatoon Open Door Society and Girl Guides of Canada as a leader of the 58th Saskatoon Brownie unit. 

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

I was looking for an “extracurricular” activity and for ways to become more involved in my community.  Girl Guides of Canada had a table on campus at the U of S during National Volunteer Week in 2002 and I put my name down on a whim. They called me back and now I’m still involved in the organization 15 years later.

What keeps you motivated to continue to volunteer?

Volunteering is a way to put my values into action.  I now see the role I have with Girl Guides as a way to provide a space for girls to build up their confidence and to realize how capable they are. Secondly, I find volunteering to be incredibly rewarding -- it’s an opportunity for me to make a positive impact in the community and to improve my own skills.  Finally, I have a lot of fun with my Brownies and I have learned so much about different cultures from the people who attend the Conversation Circles at the Saskatoon Open Door Society.

What types of relationships and learning experience have you taken away from volunteering?

I have made some of my best friends through Girl Guides. I’ve learned a lot about leadership. I think I learned more about leadership from Girl Guides than anywhere else and I am using these leadership skills in my current job.  Volunteering at the Open Door Society has allowed me to learn about other cultures and countries, and has really made me think hard about how to explain the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

What is your vision for the future of volunteering?

I think that volunteering is going to become even more important than it is now, given some of the trends we are seeing in the world.  I became involved with the Open Door Society because I wanted to help refugees from Syria who were coming to Saskatoon.  If people are looking for a way to help, volunteering is a very positive way to do so.

How do you aim to inspire others to get involved?

I think all volunteers can do to get others involved is to lead by example, and to be welcoming and inclusive when others want to be involved.  For example, if we only need four parents to help us at Brownies, and eight volunteer, they are all welcome.    

Jamie Neufeld (BSc’13) graduated from the College of Arts & Science and is continuing studies at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Jamie’s volunteer experience includes spending summer 2016 in Uganda with Veterinarians Without Borders. She also volunteers locally with the Global Gathering Place in Saskatoon.

What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

When I was younger, I volunteered more out of a sense of obligation.  Now it’s about reciprocating the experiences others have given me, and paying it forward into projects that I am passionate about.

What was your first volunteer experience? What keeps you motivated to continue to volunteer?

I participated in a program with the Saskatoon Pony Club that taught inner-city children how to handle and ride horses.  Working with kids who were thrilled just to touch a horse, let alone ride a horse, awoke me to my privilege as a young person. While we fussed about which classes to enter in the upcoming horseshow, many program attendees had shoes that were too small and were caretakers for younger siblings.  It was a reality check at a young age, and I am thankful that my coach, the late Elaine Partington, was passionate about providing this opportunity for all involved.

What types of relationships and learning experience have you taken away from volunteering?

I have made friendships with people who continue to inspire and teach me.  In Africa, for example, I connected with the local people – Frazia, a woman raising four children of her own and three more who’d been abandoned; Vivian, translator with a heart of gold and so much love to give; Ronald, a ten-year-old who dreamed of attending public school and eventually becoming a schoolteacher–all passionate and positive, without judgement or pretense.

What is your proudest moment/accomplishment from your volunteering experience?

I had the opportunity to intern with Veterinarians Without Borders and spent the summer of 2016 working on the goat pass-on project in Uganda. The project was established in 2006, so we conducted a ten-year anniversary household impact survey to analyze project strengths and shortcomings. I interviewed over fifty women and was thanked for being part of a project that improved familial childhood; children could go to school, families could eat more than one meal a day, girls could afford menstrual products and have the same opportunities as boys, and communities were able to purchase water tanks and taps and a better standard of living had been achieved by many. Experiencing the impact that a collective of individuals has made over the last ten years was an outstanding part of any of my volunteer experiences.

What is your vision for the future of volunteering? How do you aim to inspire others to get involved?

In our connected world, any and all information is available at our fingertips; we don’t have many excuses to remain ill-informed or blissfully ignorant.  However, it’s easy to remain disconnected from matters that we don’t see or directly affect us.  Volunteering and involvement should be self-motivated, but sharing my experiences and encouraging others to pursue an interest or passion of their own might be the first step.

Volunteer today!

We are interested in recruiting volunteers whether it be a couple hours, or longer stretches of time. The gift of time and talent is essential to create meaningful connections back to the university. It connects us back to the various communities we call home and the issues facing the world.

All 150,000 of our alumni around the world and our supporters and friends are invited to participate. Help shape the future and share your U of S pride!

Interested in volunteering? Please email alumni.volunteer@usask.ca and provide your name, contact information and your areas of interest.

Thank you to our sponsors!